Hot off the heels of its iPad-optimized app release, Skype, the popular VoIP service, makes another splash with an update for its Android-toting user base. Skype for Android has jumped to version 2.0, and at long last, it lets Android users make and receive video calls–well, it lets a few of them anyway. See, the new video-calling capability is, at the moment, only available to users running Android version 2.3 on the following devices: HTC Desire S, Sony Ericsson Xperia neo and pro, and the Google Nexus S. If you’re counting, that’s only four devices. While the new feature is indeed a big deal, that’s still only a very small contingent of Android users who have something to be excited about today. For the rest of us, we’ll have to wait until the folks at Skype make the functionality compatible with the rest of the gamut of Android devices.
From the new app, users can make video calls just as easily as on the desktop version. They simply have to go to a contact and hit the Skype Video Call button. While in a video call a user has the option to Mute, End, or access the video menu. If a regular voice call comes in (not through Skype), and the user accepts, the Skype call will be placed on hold. Video quality will depend upon network conditions, with a strong Wi-Fi connection presumably being optimal.
Video calling isn’t the only change, however. The new Skype 2.0 for Android also has a completely updated look and feel. Now, the application launches to a cleanly designed Home screen with icons for all your basic functions. You can also change your mood message (Skype’s version of a status update) right from the top of the Home screen. We definitely prefer it to the old, tabbed interface.
Weighing approximately 10MB, plus another 15MB for user account data (for an average user), the new application is a hefty one. Fortunately, Skype 2.0 still lets you install to your phone’s SD card.
With Skype’s newly updated app along with Qik’s April announcement of cross-platform video calling, it appears Apple’s FaceTime may just have a fight on its hands.